If you’re feeling unsure about what to expect from therapy online, read on to learn about what to expect and how to apply 7 simple tips to make the most out of your online therapy sessions.
Part of the reason why I named my practice “Haven” is because I believe that therapy should provide a container, a bit of shelter from the outside world (You may learn that I love a good metaphor). I’m not saying therapy is easy or always feels good. But it is a contained space to pause, reflect, take stock of how we are doing, and allow ourselves to stabilize and reconnect.
You may be familiar with the feeling of finally settling into the couch in your therapist’s office and feeling that implicit sense of relief that can come from knowing that for the next 50 minutes, this time is for you and that you are not alone.
It is definitely possible to avoid the commutes and parking stress to create this container through virtual therapy, though it sometimes takes a bit more planning, preparation, and flexibility.
Here are 7 small steps you can take to help make the most out of virtual therapy:
- Schedule with intention:
Are Thursdays a light day? Do you get off work or school early on Wednesdays? Are you really really not a morning person? Do the kids take a regular nap time? Can you avoid scheduling right before that big meeting? Think about the days and times when your environment is most conducive to quiet time and you’re not feeling rushed between commitments and try to book your sessions accordingly.
- Do what you can to create a private and distraction free environment:
Find a room where you can close the door and be alone. Some folks prefer to wear headphones to block out any outside noise, or use a white noise machine or fan. You can put a sticky note on the door to remind others not to disturb you during this time. Request a partner or family member to watch the kids. Turn your phone to “do not disturb” mode to help you focus, and block the time on your work calendar as unavailable.
- Get comfortable and grounded:
One perk of virtual therapy is that you have access to your favorite blanket, tea, fidget toy, essential oils, chair, cushion, etc. However, don’t get too comfortable and stay in bed – studies show that to optimize sleep, it is best to leave the bed for sleep & intimate activities. If possible, it may even be helpful to set up your own “therapy spot” that is different than where you relax or work.
- Make sure you can be seen and heard:
Your therapist stays connected to you not just by your words, but your tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language. We want to see you, so make sure you have enough lighting and have the camera set up so that you can be seen. Test out your camera and microphone, internet connection, and make sure you have enough battery life or your device is plugged in.
- Give yourself time to prepare:
Spending just five minutes in the virtual waiting room can give you time to recall your last session, begin to identify the desired focus for your upcoming session, and give you a chance to breathe and begin your session with more intentionality. This can also be a buffer time to test out your technology.
- Pencil in time for processing after your session:
Oftentimes, processing continues after therapy. To help you transition from therapy to your other commitments, it can be helpful to take a walk, journal, or do some gentle movement or stretching after your session. It can be easy to get pulled back into work, family, and social media but experiment with ways to make time in between sessions to reflect on what is coming up for you. Keeping a journal or using the notes app on your phone can be a helpful tool to facilitate processing and can help you to feel ready to make the most out of your next session.
- Practice self-compassion and flexibility:
Know that you or your therapist may encounter technology issues or interruptions. Take deep breaths and know your therapist will work with you to find solutions and we are all doing the best we can. This may be a chance to practice creativity and flexibility. If the quietest place to have your session is in the car, go for it! Your therapist will never judge you and does not expect anyone to have it all together all of the time. In fact, this is an opportunity to be seen and accepted and may even help you feel more understood.
Curious to learn more?
Virtual therapy can be just as meaningful and helpful as in person services. If you’re curious about starting virtual therapy and live in Montana or California, schedule a free no pressure consultation at your convenience. I’d be happy to collaborate to see if virtual therapy is right for you.